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WASHINGTON – Sunni Qatar has teamed up with fellow Sunni Saudi Arabia in providing money and arms to oust the Shi’a Alawite regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
On the surface it would limit the growing influence in the Arab world of Shi’ite Iran, but there may be an ulterior motive, too.
According to Middle East analyst Pepe Escobar in the Asia Times, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, wants to run a natural gas pipeline to Europe which now would have to through Iraq and Turkey.
Iraq, however, poses a problem because it has an Iranian-backed Shi’a government under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, thereby becoming an obstacle because of his and Iran’s support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
As an alternative, the pipeline would be diverted to Jordan where the gas could be picked up in ships in the Gulf of Aqaba, and they would then head to the Gulf of Suez and into the Mediterranean.
“It’s clear what Qatar is aiming at – to kill the ten billion dollar Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline, a deal that was clinched even as the Syrian uprising was already underway,” Escobar said.
This places Qatar in direct competition with Iran and even Iraq as a transit country.
The natural gas would come from the South Pars field, said to be the largest gas field in the world. It is shared by Iran and Qatar.
“The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline – if it’s ever built – would solidify a predominantly Shi’ite axis through an economic, steel umbilical cord,” Escobar said.
It therefore would be to Qatar’s interest to build its pipeline away from the Shi’a countries, an approach that probably would have the tacit approval of the United States.
“And of course, if there’s regime change in Syria – helped by the Qatari-proposed invasion – things get much easier” for Qatar’s pipeline intentions, Escobar pointed out.
“A more than probable Muslim Brotherhood post-Assad regime would more than welcome a Qatari pipeline. And that would make an extension to Turkey much easier.”
Qatar is a major supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.
As a consequence, Escobar points out, both Turkey and the U.S. would realize their strategic aims. Turkey wants to become the energy crossroads from the Middle East to Europe while the U.S. would see an energy strategy emerging that would bypass and even cripple Iran.
However, given Qatar’s strong backing of the Brotherhood, a regime change in Syria may make it easy for the pipeline to be built, thereby helping to solidify al-Thani’s game plan.
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